Supply and demands

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Tyler Steffenson
  • 425th Air Base Wing director of staff
With American unemployment at its highest in recent history, it's no surprise that more and more people of all ages are considering military service. This rise of new applicants is impacting those of us already in the service. As the pool of potential recruits grows, the Air Force can be more selective about who it accepts and what standards it demands. The result will be higher standards, with less room for failure. In order to avoid joining the ranks of the unemployed, now is the time for all of us to reevaluate our current level of readiness, and apply the extra effort to our own self-improvement.

The new expectations are already being put into effect with the upcoming physical training standards. The Air Force can no longer afford to retain members who are not ready to deploy at a moment's notice and hit the ground running. Nor does it need to, thanks to the economy; the number of applicants is climbing, the number of waivers to join is dropping, and entrance test scores are higher than ever.

Another adjustment to our future is that the Air Force can no longer afford to let the testing process go unchecked and self-directed. Any legitimate process in the Air Force, or any profession for that matter, has an independent and unbiased quality assurance function to ensure standards are met. For too long, the Air Force physical training test has been graded by "buddies" or supervisors, potentially looking to help their subordinates. January will be a rude awakening for those who rely on their last few half-push-ups being counted. With the new plan to employ civilians for testing, there will be no margin to slide by on the new test.

Like many organizations in the Air Force, every member of my unit has just completed diagnostic PT tests with strict guidelines on what counts as a completed repetition and what doesn't. The scores were computed using both the current and upcoming scales. What surprised leadership was that the number of test failures more than doubled using the new standard. Many members were also surprised at how truly unprepared they were for the new test. In an effort to prepare our members for the for the future, we have enrolled anyone at risk for failing their actual test in the Healthy Living Program, to build positive habits and life long fitness goals.

Is the new fitness assessment perfect? No, it's a developing product that will continue to evolve over the years. But as it changes, those who refuse to grow will be left behind. Because of the economic downturn, the supply of potential recruits has grown, and so have the demands the Air Force will expect and require of them. Every Airman should be physically fit 365 days a year; if you're not, prepare yourself now for the new fitness assessment. You will serve both the needs of the Air Force and your own self-interest. And as we all know, this is not the best time to start looking for a new line of work.